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Culture through the lens of food

Kenyan Chapati

Kenyan Chapati

If there is a dish that can attest to one’s culinary skills, it is chapati! The best Kenyan chapati is soft with a slight chew and flaky layers. This unleavened flatbread is a staple in Kenyan cuisine, as well as neighboring countries. Despite sharing a name with the Indian bread of the same name, it’s more similar to a paratha due to its layered structure.

The key to successfully making chapati is practice and time. Every family knows who the good chapati makers are, and who isn’t allowed to touch it. 

Chapati making is commonly a communal affair, made in an assembly line style, each cook preparing a certain step. The ingredients are simple- flour, water, salt, and fat. The dough is prepared in a basin, starting with the flour and salt. Room temperature water is slowly streamed in as it’s mixed by hand. Determining the correct amount of water is critical here. Add too little and the chapati will be rock hard and dual as a frisbee once cooked. Too much water, they won’t hold shape. This makes preparing the dough, the most critical part in chapati making and left for the best cook to do. 

Once the base dough is made, it’s divided and shaped into balls and the assembly line begins. There is the job of rolling, adding the fat, final shaping, and cooking. This task can be accomplished by one person, but cooking communally serves as a dual function of making cooking more leisurely, as well as giving people time to socialize.

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Kenyan Chapati

  • Author: Kiano Moju

Description

If there is a dish that can attest to one’s culinary skills, it is chapati! The best Kenyan chapati is soft with a slight chew and flaky layers. This unleavened flatbread is a staple in Kenyan cuisine, as well as neighboring countries. Despite sharing a name with the Indian bread, it’s more similar to a paratha due to its layered structure.

 

The key to successfully making chapati is practice and time.


Scale

Ingredients

2 cups white bread flour, plus additional for rolling

2 cups fine whole wheat flour

2 teaspoons kosher salt

~ ⅔ cup oil

1  cup warm water

 


Instructions


 

Kiano Moju is the editor and founder of Jikoni. She has created and hosted cooking videos for several publications. Her culinary education began at age 7, taking cooking classes in her native California and spending summers on her family's Maasai ranch in the mountains of Kenya.

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